LOS ANGELES, March 4 (Reuters) - Police said on Friday they were examining a knife purportedly found at the former home of O.J. Simpson, the onetime football star acquitted of stabbing to death his ex-wife and her friend in the "Trial of the Century" two decades ago.
Forensic investigators were conducting DNA tests on the blade, which was recently turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department by a retired motorcycle officer, Lieutenant Andrew Neiman told reporters at a news conference.
Neiman said the officer told investigators he was given the knife by a construction worker, who in turn claimed to have found it on Simpson's property in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles when the house was being torn down in 1998.
Simpson's former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death on June 12, 1994, at her condominium a few miles away.
The murder weapon had not been recovered at the time of his sensational trial, which was carried live on major television networks in the United States and transfixed much of the nation.
Key players in trial:
Key Players in the OJ Simpson Trial
Police investigate knife found at O.J. Simpson's onetime LA home
Defense attorney Robert Shapiro (L) sits next to O.J. Simpson during a preliminary hearing following the murders of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman July 7, 1994 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Prosecutor Marcia Clark complains to the judge 27 February about a second statement by Rosa Lopez, a key defense witness, that was not released by the defense. Lopez, a housekeeper to a neighbor of O.J. Simpson's, claims to have seen a white Ford Bronco outside his home at around the time the prosecution claim the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman took place. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 19: O.J. Simpson (R) whispers to Defense attorney F. Lee Bailey (L) during testimony of FBI special agent William Bodziak 19 June during the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles. Bodziak compared one of O.J. Simpson's tennis shoes to a model of the Italian-made Bruno Magli shoes, which left imprints at the murder scene of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16: O.J. Simpson defense attorney Alan Dershowitz (standing) gestures during a motion to Judge Lance Ito 16 June in which he said that the standard of juror dismissals must be changed. The defense has accused the prosecution of juror targeting and hiding witnesses. Seated are (L-R) prosecutor Marcia Clark and Scott Gordon. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the OJ Simpson murder trial is shown during a court hearing December 9
OJ Simpson sits in court October 14 with his attorney Robert Shapiro during a hearing in Simpson's murder trial
Defense attorneys Robert Shapiro (L) and Johnnie Cochran, Jr., arrive at the Criminal Courts Building in Los Angeles September 26 for the first day of jury selection in the OJ Simpson murder trial. A protestor's painting on spousal abuse is in the background
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito makes a point during a pre-trial hearing on suppression of evidence in the OJ Simpson murder case September 21 in Los Angeles
Josephine Guarin, housekeeper at OJ Simpson's estate in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, testifies during a pre-trial hearing on evidence suppression in the OJ Simpson murder case September 22
Prosecution witness Candace Garvey, a friend of Nicole-Brown Simpson, testifes about OJ Simpson's appearance at his daughter's dance recital June 12, 1994, during afternoon court session in OJ Simpson's murder trial
Prosecutor Marcia Clark wears rubber gloves as she places a left-hand glove found at the feet of murder victim Ronald Goldman into a plastic bag during OJ Simpson's murder trial, February 17
Denise Brown (L), sister of Nicole-Brown Simpson, cries as she testifies February 6 about Nicole-Simpson's relationship with O.J. Simpson, during morning court session in Simpson's murder trial. Brown wears "Angel" earrings and pins in memory of her sister
FILE PHOTO 16MAR95 - Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman is shown on the witness stand March 16, 1995 during O.J. Simpson's murder trial in Los Angeles. A bloody fingerprint was found at the scene of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman but police bungling destroyed it, Fuhrman says in a new book published on February 17.
Prosecutor Brian Kelberg points out a wound near Ronald Goldman's ear on an autopsy chart during testimony June 9 in the OJ Simpson murder trial. The Los Angeles County coroner said that Goldman received two small stabs to the neck in addition to fatal slashes, suggesting that he was taunted by his attacker before being killed
Kim Goldman, sister of murder victim Ron Goldman, reacts to the showing of a photograph of her brother's bloody shirt during the OJ Simpson double murder trial in Los Angeles June 26. The prosecution presented the final phase of its case, trace and hair evidence.
**POOR QUALITY DOCUMENT
Arnelle Simpson, daughter of murder defendant OJ Simpson, testifies July 10 on her father's behalf in his double murder trial in Los Angeles. Arnelle Simpson is the first witness in the defense's case
Defense witness Robert Heidstra points during his testimony July 12 at O.J. Simpson's murder trial to the area near where he walked his dog on the night [Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman] were murdered June 12,1994. The chart is a map of the area around Bundy Drive, site of the murders
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A medical examiner testified for the prosecution at the time that Brown Simpson and Goldman were likely slain with a single-bladed, six-inch knife.
Police declined to elaborate on the timeline of when the knife was recovered but Neiman said it was possible that "the whole story is bogus from the get-go."
He also would not name the retired police officer or speculate on why the weapon had been given to police only in the past two months.
"We still don't know if that is an accurate account of how this item came into our possession," Neiman said, adding: "If you are the individual that provided that knife (to the police officer) we would love to have you contact our Robbery Homicide Division."
Authorities have not described the knife but the celebrity website TMZ reported it was a kind of folding knife typically used in hunting and fishing.
NBC News, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that it was a smaller, relatively inexpensive utility-style blade typically carried by construction workers or other laborers and inconsistent with it being the murder weapon.
Legal experts said Simpson could not be put on trial for the murders again because of the doctrine of double jeopardy.
"There really are no exceptions. Once somebody has been found not guilty of a crime, he cannot be charged with that crime again, under any circumstances," said University of Southern California law professor Michael Brennan, a former criminal defense attorney. "O.J. could confess to the crimes and he couldn't be charged again."
Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the trial, told Entertainment Tonight in an interview she was pleased police were taking the find seriously, even if it was unlikely to lead to a new charges.
"The likelihood of any prosecution stemming from this evidence is very, very slim," she said. "But we have to find out what this means, what the truth of this is."
Clark also said she believed it was possible that DNA evidence could be lifted from the blade that could shed light on the case.
Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman by a civil court jury in 1997 and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims' families, a judgment that has remained largely unfulfilled.
He was convicted in Las Vegas in 2008 of kidnapping and robbery in a bungled attempt to recover memorabilia from his storied football career and was sentenced to a prison term of up to 33 years.
Highlighting the enduring fascination the case holds for the American public, there were roughly 150 tweets per minute about O.J. Simpson on Friday, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph.
Reports about the knife surfaced just as a popular new FX cable television drama series, "The People v. O.J. Simpson," chronicling the trial, is airing. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Chicago, Jill Serjeant in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Rigby and James Dalgleish)